For hospital administrator Mansure, the fight against diabetes is personal

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, August 9, 2011

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John Mansure, CEO and president of Greer Memorial Hospital and whose son was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, is on a mission to sell 400 South Carolina license plates calling attention to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

John Mansure, CEO and president of Greer Memorial Hospital and whose son was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, is on a mission to sell 400 South Carolina license plates calling attention to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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The person lying in a bed at the Children’s Hospital at Greenville was frail. Standing at the end of the bed was the father, taking a picture to document how quickly a disease can strangle the heartstrings of a family.

One would think a CEO and president of a hospital would be practically immune to scenarios like this. Not so for John Mansure of Greer Memorial Hospital. It was his son, Hayden, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and there was nothing Mansure could do at the moment.

Hayden has since regained his strength and adapted to using a pump to inject insulin into his body.

Now Mansure, a member of the board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Greenville, has taken it personally to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Once called juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes among people younger than 20, but strikes all ages.

Nick Jonas, of the Jonas Brothers, Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Bret Michaels, lead singer for the band Poison, have Type 1 diabetes. Mary Tyler Moore, now in her 70s, has long been active in promoting diabetes research. Her Type 1 diabetes was diagnosed in her 30s. She serves as the International Chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

S.C. diabetes license plates

Mansure is on a mission to sell 400 South Carolina license plates that will ensure the department of motor vehicles will manufacture them and make them available to the public.

Unfortunately, that seems realistic considering that in South Carolina:

• 8.1 out of every 100 adults has diabetes, 5th highest in the nation

• 27.5 out of every adult 100,000 deaths are due to diabetes, ranking the state 19th

• In 2005, 297,000 adults were diagnosed with diabetes and by 2007 10 percent of the total adult population had been diagnosed with diabetes.

“I saw a license plate promoting the cure for diabetes. North Carolina is trying to get one and a number of states have them so I thought, ‘Why not South Carolina?’ ” Mansure said.
Mansure said the DMV’s policy is for 400 license plates or a check for $4,000 will get a non-profit’s plates into production. The specialized plates are $30 each with $26 going to the JDRF. “I did it more for awareness,” Mansure said.

Onset of diabetes

Hayden felt his energy level decrease daily in May 2009. “The onset was gradual,” Mansure said. “He was playing church basketball and felt tired more than usual. He said, ‘Daddy, I’ve got go to the Life Center.’ He thought he needed more conditioning.”

Hayden’s blood sugar was tested at 400 when the normal blood sugar levels are from 70-120. His symptoms included the classic signs of a diabetic – weight loss and thirst. He eventually was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, in which the body's immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that make insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. “Once a cell is dead, you’re stuck,” Mansure said. 

Mansure said he’s confident Hayden can manage the constant care diabetes requires. “He can take care of himself. He tests himself six to eight times a day and changes the pump site every three days,” Mansure said.

Diabetes is becoming increasingly common. The Centers for Disease Control produced a study that shows the number of Americans with diabetes could triple by 2050. One in 10 U.S. adults has the disease now but could grow to 1 in 3 in the next 40 years.
Diabetes is a leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about $170 billion in health care costs. The disease presents serious threats to health during a lifetime, including increased risk of heart attack, kidney failure, blindness and many other complications.

Life changing for parents

Mansure said that he and his wife Ruth watch their son more closely now.  "We make sure he doesn't get too tired.  Basically, we worry all the time."

As a hospital administrator, Mansure understands the rare “Dead is bed syndrome.” It’s probably the least discussed, but most dreaded complication of Type 1 diabetes. And it frightens Mansure.

Typically, a previously well adult or child with diabetes goes to sleep and simply never wakes up. It is estimated to be responsible for 5 - 6 percent of deaths in all people with Type 1 diabetes, according to medical professionals.

Greer Memorial Hospital is affiliated with the Greenville Hospital System and frequently hosts health fairs, walks and clinics. Mansure wants to bring the Walk to Cure Diabetes to Greer’s Lake Robinson next September. “Lake Robinson would be a beautiful place to host the walk and bring attention to that part of Greer,” Mansure said.

This year the walk is at Fluor Field on Saturday, Sept. 10. 

Today, the father happily shows photos of his son playing lacrosse and enjoying life. Mansure keeps an Erma Bombeck column, “How God Selects The Mother of a Diabetic Child” on his desktop computer. Sitting proudly in a special corner is Rufus, the bear with diabetes.  “Hayden is a little too grown up for him. Rufus stays with me now,” Mansure said.

When Mansure speaks of Hayden, he firmly declares, “He’s my hero. He’s never said a bad word about this disease.” 

Active student and athlete, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes,
is adjusting to a different way of life

May 29, 2010. It’s a mental tattoo embedded in Hayden Mansure’s mind to remind him of the day he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Hayden, an active student and athlete, suddenly became weaker by the day and was drinking an enormous amount of fluid. Subsequent visits to the doctor and Children’s Hospital of Greenville convinced him he was experiencing a life-changing event. Hayden explains how he has brought normality back to his life.

GreerToday: What were your first thoughts when you were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?

Hayden: How it would effect how I played sports. I didn’t think it would totally wipe me out. The doctors described how my daily life would be changed and told me I could also continue a normal, active life. 

GT: How are you doing now?

Hayden: I haven’t let it effect me much. I make sure I eat during the day so I don’t go long without food. The doctors helped me get started on my insulin by myself soon after I was diagnosed, and I’m handling that pretty well.

GT: When did you first suspect something was out of the ordinary with your health?

Hayden: I was traveling and playing in a basketball tournament and I felt real tired, and I was drinking a lot of water. I suspected something was wrong. I never felt like that, and it came on without warning. All day long I was feeling weak.

GT: What was the definitive sign that something was seriously wrong with your health?

Hayden: Mom was going to New York for a week and before she left she noticed that I was tired and looked weak. We thought maybe it was a growth spurt. When she came back she knew something was wrong.

GT: How long did it take you to recover?

Hayden: Most of my recovery was in the hospital. I had dropped a lot of weight. I gained back 20 pounds in one week. In three weeks I was back to normal and playing lacrosse.

GT: Did you or your family know much about diabetes?

Hayden: We didn’t know too much. We did a lot of research and looked at what could help me.

GT: How did your friends respond when you told them you had diabetes?

Hayden: Some asked me questions about the disease and how it would affect me. I told them I can do everything I was able to do before the diagnosis. They were supportive. I also got a lot of help from my PTP (Preclinical Testing Program) support group.

GT: This is a disease that requires 24/7 maintenance. How do you manage with the pump?

Hayden: Sports has helped me. The medical things are not a problem. If I control my medicine and diet I’ll be OK. I eat smarter and don’t drink sodas. Now, it’s just diet drinks. The pump makes it a whole lot easier. The trad off is it’s a much easier way to live.

GT: Do people ask you for advice when they or an acquaintance has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?

Hayden: I get emails from parents and kids from time to time. The PTP support group has helped me, and I encourage them to participate in that, too. I tell them to let the kids be independent and keep doing the same things they’ve been doing in the past. 

GT: Do you speak publicly about your disease?

Hayden:  At Challenge Day we tell a little bit about ourselves and things that impacted our lives. I feel like it’s been a learning and growing experience.  Since I have Type 1 diabetes I feel like I can help people that have it. It’s bad but it can be overcome. 

People mentioned in this article. Click a name to view more articles for that person.

John Mansure

Businesses mentioned in this article.

Greer Memorial Hospital


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